Happens When News Reporters Crawl Into The Belly Of The Beast
Is There Life After Terror?
ZERO PLUS 1174 DAYS,--New York, NY, Monday, November
over the dead bodies of little children and taking their pictures
isn't the dream job most people hope for when they're trying
to carve out their future.
part of the role of war correspondent, and, sadly, the most
important part. I served in such a capacity in Vietnam and was
also present at Ground Zero on NineEleven.
the horror of war with words and pictures is similar to being
a mortician assistant for the living. You walk behind the grim
reaper recording and reporting on the living who cry out for
the dead, and the dead who cry out to be alive.
of Revelations is all about the carnage of spiritual war
on the horrors of war is not a new task. Since the first human
rubbed a charcoal stick on a leaf, writing the events of human
conflict down for prosperity has been a top priority. In the
Bible, the Book of Revelations is all about the carnage of war--spiritual
war--but if you read it closely, it's about the carnage and
suffering of the last day.
center of Rome stand the Trajan Column, a magnificent edifice
towering up some feet. Carved from the base to the top is the
history of battles fought by Emperor Trajan. Citizens of Rome
would walk about the malls surrounding the column and study
the pictures much as people sit in front of their televisions
today looking at the carnage of Iraq, or the strewn carcasses
from a plane crash, or any other horrible tragedy involving
the loss of human life.
The Trajan Column depicts
Trajan's detailed carvings as a war commentary
been glorified and vilified by various combat correspondents
throughout time. The adventures of Ulysses talk about a battle
with mythical beings, recording bloodthirsty engagements with
creatures who rip, claw, tear, shred and torture their victims
before eating them.
War And Peace and All Quiet On The Western Front leave the reader
feeling cold and clammy, shivering to think that human beings
will unleash such victimization upon others for the seemingly
senseless pursuit of power or righteousness.
the Greek poet who immortalized the combat of the Spartans against
the Persians 2500 years ago, holds up the warrior as a Sentinel
isn't new. Neither is its trauma.
women who participate in the barrel of the gun of war know every
twist and turn of its bore. They know the smell of decaying
and burning flesh as they might an exquisite perfume. They know
the cries of the wounded bleating out pained cries for their
mothers as the blood oozes from their wounded bodies and the
lights of life grow dim to final darkness.
innocent children imprint themselves into the mind of
the war correspondent
are the butchered innocent imprinting themselves into the mind
of the war correspondent. Children without arms or legs, some
with half a face, others burned by chemicals so their flesh
resembles the desiccation of a fig, or the bloating of their
bellies from malnutrition.
is a Beast of Terror, his footprints appear most gruesome in
the wake of war among the innocent, the collateral damages of
holds true for tragedies. A train or car wreck maims and destroys
human life in the blink of an eye, turning an otherwise rosy
world into one dripping with victims' blood. That blood drips
onto the pad of the reporter covering it and smears the lens
of the camera capturing the horror.
news reporters do when they face death and destruction and report
it in ways different from most. A reporter is a sponge, sucking
in all the who-s, what-s, when-s, where-s, why-s, and how-s
that he or she can. In other words, every square inch of the
horror of any tragedy must be relived in forensic detail by
a good reporter to answer all the questions history might ask--the
who, what, when, why, where and how of human Terrorism.
It is an
act of Terror that three children are consumed in a fire while
the mother escapes. The fire is the Terrorist. The neglect--if
any--that led to it is Terrorism. The reason why the children
were left behind is Terrorism..
A car crash
is an act of Terrorism. One vehicle smashes into another. One
driver is a Terrorist--no matter what happened. If the driver
was drunk it is easy to label him a Terrorist, but if he slumps
over from a heart attack and his car bullets into a carload
full of children, is he still a Terrorist? Did he not take his
pills? Did he not sleep well before driving? Should he have
driven? Was he overweight?
a Terrorist everywhere in any tragedy, and, often, numerous
ones. The reporter hunts them all down, each Terror Cell is
denitrified, labeled, shelved, counted, annotated, affirmed,
reaffirmed. There can be who, what, when, why, where or how
without finding Terrorism littering the path.
such Terrorism exists is because of the victims. The victims
are the punctuation point of Terrorism. They are the pained
recipients of the Beast of Terror's wrath. They kneel down in
the blood soaked pools surrounding their children's bodies and
scream to the heavens: "Why? Why God, would you let this
reporters must also ask themselves: "Why would God
let these atrocities happen?"
must look up and ask the same question. The victim has just
told the world he or she has been Terrorized by an Act of God.
is a euphemism for Terrorism. A "tragic" event is
a "terrifying" event. It tortures the victims with
the pain of a branding iron shoved against their chest, burning
a giant "V" into their skin.
Terror Reporter, the Terror Hunter, has to ferret this all out.
He or she has to be the bullet being loaded, the hammer being
cocked, the finger squeezing the trigger, the target it hits,
the pain the target endures, the suffering of the victim to
death, and then become the victim's loved ones, friends, relatives
and a world of onlookers wondering who, what, when, why, where
and how it all happened in hopes it won't happen to them.
does the Terror Reporter, the Terror Hunter Recorder, do with
all the chunks and pieces of Terrorism he or she collects as
part of the reporting job?
story is only a microcosm of the data collected, a mere grain
of Terror on a beach of Terrorism.
lives with the pain and suffering, with the horror and haunting
of the event as does the priest who receives endless confessions
of the most vile and ugly nature, as the paramedic does the
countless maimed and broken bodies he or she scrapes from pavement,
or the mortician who restores mangled bodies to visual wholeness.
at the Battle of Gettysburg
carry Terrorism in bags hanging around their souls because there
is no way to expunge it, no true way to ever erase the face
of a mother holding her dead son's head in her arms after her
village had just been bombed, or extricate the blank stare of
a catatonic mother clutching in a death grip the sleeve of her
child's pajamas as the fireman try to wrench the charred child's
body from the mother's hands.
are the thirteen victims of the World Trade Center attack who
refused to accept any payment of any kind from the government
or airlines because they felt compensation would cheapen the
lives of their departed. Why did these victims refuse to be
victims in that sense? Why did they deny accepting there was
such a thing as closure? Was it because they knew there can
never be an end to the Terror of that day? And, that learning
to live with that fact is perhaps the hardest lesson of anyone's
life, of anyone's existence?
Hunter Reporter still hears the wailing of mothers
Hunting Reporter would have to dig through the souls of each
victim to uncover and discover the truth hidden there. Along
that journey, the reporter would absorb all the pain and suffering,
for to not be able to do that would not result in a fair and
out the other side, the Terror Hunting Reporter is a bit heavier.
The souls and the sadness of those souls have clung to him or
her, regardless of how many baths or showers one takes.
I can still hear the wailing of the mothers as they carried
their dead children over their heads toward a funeral pyre.
There is no removal of them from my mind.
University of Washington, there is an attempt to help journalists
understand how to face the Beast of Terror when one is called
upon or chooses to report on tragedies or war. The Dart Center
for journalism and trauma seeks to better understand how to
help reporters live with the horrors they witness and record.
a step in the right direction.
truest sense, no one should have more knowledge about Terrorism
than a reporter, for the reporter's job is to crawl inside the
belly of the Beast and to understand it from the inside out,
and, to have the same knowledge about the Sentinel of Vigilance.
The war reporter crawls
inside the beast
is one other part the reporter has to know. That is the victim.
To understand Terrorism is to be the victim, to wear the victim's
shoes, to shed his or her tears, to feel the empty knot in your
gut, to absorb the suffering, the pain.
is done, the great stories appear. These great stories are wrung
from the sponge souls of the witnesses and recorders of such
horror, for they know what few others can never know. They know
the face of the Beast of Terror. They have been inside him.
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